I’ve always been told that Wonder Woman comics are not very good, but I’m not entirely sure why. I have my suspicions: superhero comics are a male dominated field and continually struggle with issues of sexism that come with that as much if not more than other popular fiction mediums; she’s a character with nearly as much history as Superman and Batman but with far less mainstream history to allow her stories and archetypes to be household in the same way that the Wayne murders or Clark’s glasses are; she’s regularly given radical direction shifts because of those reasons above; and finally, her story is just kind of weird. Her origins are uncomfortable for a lot of people, most incarnations of the character come with a lot of mythological baggage, and with her only live action appearance limited to a TV show that is relegated to the dustbins of ancient television, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot for people to grasp on other than she’s the girl of the DC universe, and nobody seems willing to be dissuaded too far from that idea minus the odd particularly good appearance somewhere else.
Anyway, I’ve always been drawn to Wonder Woman since I first came across her on the Justice League cartoon, and I’ve never been sure why when comics culture is quick to let me know that no, actually, she’s not very good. So for a long time I stayed away, only picking at books about her as I explored other parts of the DC universe. But I kept finding myself curious about this nebulous bit of history, just how bad it could be that everyone talks it down, and whether there isn’t something worthwhile to it. Furthermore, I’m an AMAB non-binary person, and I increasingly feel the desire to explore as deep into feminine icons that speak to me as I figure out my own gender identity. That makes Wonder Woman a perfect figure to dissect, since she’s a messy constructed woman amalgamated through decades of male culture that brought her into being. I often feel I can relate.
It also feels like the perfect time to do this. As the above image helpfully illustrates, it’s the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, and she’s bigger than ever. She has a popular book ongoing biweekly at DC, two digital-first ongoing out of continuity titles, and an upcoming live-action movie. We’re less than a year away from the first actual female superhero film, and that both feels like a minor miracle and also deeply infuriating that it’s taken just this long. But she’s in the zeitgeist, and as I looked over the seemingly dozenth new origin she’s been given in Rucka’s work and I think about the absolutely incredible version of Diana we’ve been given in The Legend of Wonder Woman, I think I’d like to finally know more.
That brings us to this. Why Wonder Woman? Why not? There are thousands of people who are experts on Batman or Spider-Man, I would be happy to be an expert on a hero as storied as Wonder Woman herself. What does that mean for this project? That means I’m going to try to slowly, over probably many years, read everything Wonder Woman. I’m starting with Wonder Woman Vol 2 # 1, for no other reason than I had to start somewhere. I’m going to do write ups of each issue, of varying length, just charting my journey. I’ll also be writing about any other Wonder Woman books I read, and maybe even some shows from time to time. These won’t be every day, but I’d like to do them most days, and I’d like them to be much shorter than this, but with pictures. I’d like them to be accessible, but I have no doubt they’ll be personal and more for me than anybody else. I hope people will join me, but I have no expectation that people will read along.
I mean, everyone knows her books aren’t very good.
But I intend to find out.